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Teaching meditation as a job...

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  • Teaching meditation as a job...

    Hi Bhante, how are you?

    Lately I've been reflecting on my livelihood and what that will entail until I ordain (which I fervently hope occurs!).
    I've been studying counselling and intended to be a drug and alcohol counsellor as this is an area I have a lot of personal experience in. However as space-time unravels I am becoming less inclined towards doing so and more interested in teaching meditation. I would still love to help the drug and alcohol sector by counselling/speaking about recovery and also teaching meditation to those suffering from the affliction of addiction, however what I really want is to focus on teaching meditation.

    Both my heart and mind become joyful at the thought of such a future however I have two concerns; I need to make a living to subsist prior to ordination and I'm not exactly sure how I feel about charging for meditation instruction. I expect I would teach a lot for free but would still need to make some money. I realise I could have another job as well and simply offer free meditation instruction in the meantime but I'd much prefer to focus on it fully. I wonder what your thoughts on this are?

    My other concern is something more recent, which arose after watching an interview of Ajahn Brahm:
    In it he speaks of the danger of teaching meditation without also teaching sila. That mindfulness on it's own could be dangerous. An example he uses is that of a gunman who practices mindfulness, doing so he will have better aim.
    I actually have heard this point before but had dismissed it in the past. I do see that one would have better aim or simply that when one is mindful one's mind is a lot more powerful and therefore could be more skilled at producing negative results if that was their intention. It's just that I've always thought that even mindfulness on it's own would lead to a deeper understanding of the human condition and kamma and would inadvertently boost one's sila. I know this 'boost' would be nowhere near as profound as if one were intentionally cultivating the other aspects of the eight-fold path, but feel it would still cultivate them inadvertently nevertheless.. I have a lot of respect for Ajahn Brahm's wisdom and so hearing him state his concern on the matter has led to me taking it more seriously. I previously had little intention of teaching much sila in my potential future instructions to the non-Buddhist community as I am not certain that would be received without resistance. I still have a lot more to consider but I'm thinking that I would incorporate that in my meditation instructions.
    What are your thoughts on all this?

    I hope you are well and had a super blissful rains retreat this year. I'm very appreciative of the opportunity to ask you these questions!

    With Metta,


  • #2
    Hi Dylan,

    I'm all perfectly suffering! And how are you?

    My second question to you is: what withholds you from joining a monastery now? There's plenty of monasteries in the world, and Australia certainly as well, that will be very happy to have you! Even if you can't join the monastery of your choice right away, you can in the meantime live at another.

    Now, to answer your first question... I can't.

    Because you are basically asking, I think, how you should approach your job as a meditation teacher. Should you charge for it, or not? I can't tell you that. I don't know how hard you need the money, what you will teach, why you will teach, etc. So if you feel like it's OK to charge money, then go ahead. There's certainly nothing wrong with it. Teaching meditation is a very wholesome job, if you do it well. It's much more wholesome than most jobs in the world, and people earn a lot of money for that!

    Your second questsion: If you teach, should you teach sila?

    Well, if you are going to teach for money, then of course you teach what people are desirous of. You won't earn much, nor make people very happy, if you tell them not to go hunting, or not to have affairs, or not to whatever, before they come to your class! But you can teach sila in a different way. You can encourage people in good things.

    Example: "Meditation is all about letting go. I practice letting go in daily life by donating time and money to charity." Or whatever is applicable. Or another example: "Meditation is about kindness. Be kind to your body, to your mind, but also to your friends, to your family, to animals."

    That's the thing, I think, about teaching meditation. You have to be a bit skillful and such.

    I'm sure you'll do a good job considering how much carefully you reflect on it in the first place.

    With kindness,
    Last edited by Bhikkhu Sunyo; 5th-January-2018, 08:14 AM.


    • #3
      Thanks for your reply Bhante, I found it helpful

      In regards to your question "what withholds you from joining a monastery now?" - I'm actually glad you asked this as I'd like to hear your response to my answer :P

      If I felt ready I would ordain next week. It is caution that holds me back. I have various musculoskeletal issues that at times have a profound impact on my physical capabilities.
      I could write paragraphs on this but I will simply give a couple of examples: Sometimes my shoulders make me incapable of sitting on a cushion or chair, at these times I must lay down to meditate. I am unsure but believe that it wouldn't be appropriate for me to do this as a monk in the sala?
      Also my elbows prevent me from doing many things, I cannot even write with a pen for my fine motor skills are so impaired. Often I cannot use a computer and I can barely ever lift my arms above my head (to say shave it lol) let alone saw logs or shovel dirt, which from my monastery experiences seems to be a very normal part of the monastic life. My legs are also dodgy! I fear at present I'd be a burden to the community, if I were even allowed to ordain.
      I am undergoing extensive physiotherapy and the expectations are optimistic, however I believe I will always be very limited physically. I fear even after more physio that I may not be allowed to ordain. Anyway this is the main reason why I haven't already donned the yellow robe.

      I'm very curious to hear your reply and I hope you are having a magnificent new year!

      With Metta




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